White Dog said, "it may not be Wonderful World material, momma, but knowledge is power and with power we CAN make the world cancer-free…and we ALL know there is nothing that would be more wonderful than that.”
November is National Canine Cancer Awareness Month and as part of the White Dog Army’s mission to fight the evil c monster, we want to share some facts.
Dogs and cats have higher age adjusted incidence rates for many kinds of cancers than do humans. For example, dogs are 35 times more likely to get skin cancer than are humans. They suffer from 8 times the amount of bone cancer and 4 times the amount of breast cancer.
Cancer affects one out of three dogs; one of ever y four will die from some form of this monster. There are 65 million dogs and 32 million cats in the United States. Of these, roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs and a similar number made in cats each year.
Cancer treatment is expensive which often acts as a barrier to pets being able to get treatment – diagnostics cost $200 and up, depending on the location of the cancer, surgery to remove a tumor deep in the body, or that requires reconstruction, usually starts at about $1,500, chemotherapy depends on the size of the dog, and usually ranges from $200 to $2,000 and up, for three to six months of treatment *The National Canine Cancer Foundation ($9,700 total cost for one-time cancer treatment)
Cancer incidence is 3 times higher in female than in male dogs, a difference explained by the high rate of mammary cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in intact females.
Osteosarcoma, the most common bone cancer of large and giant breed dogs, closely resembles the osteosarcoma in teenagers in its skeletal location and aggressiveness.
Genetic changes that occur in dogs diagnosed with chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia are identical to the genetic abnormalities in humans with the same cancer.
Although Lung cancer is the most common cancer in humans worldwide, accounting for 1.3 million deaths annually. Lung cancer in dogs is almost always secondary in nature. Cancerous cells spread from other parts of the body to affect the lungs and is nearly always fatal. About 50% of dogs with lung cancer surgery have a life expectancy of 1 year.
But we are not without hope. Advances in science, human and veterinary medicine are revealing that by building bridges and attacking this beast with united efforts that we can unmask this elusive demon and discover that cancer is cancer…not dog cancer. not cat cancer. not people cancer…but simply cancer. And in that Eureka moment we have gained an upper hand in our battle.
Like ourselves, our pet dogs suffer from a wide range of spontaneous cancers. For thousands of years humans and dogs have shared a unique bond. In the 21st century this relationship is now strengthened to one with a solid biomedical basis; the genome of the dog may hold the keys to unlocking some of nature's most intriguing puzzles about cancer. (Matthew Breen, Ph.D., North Carolina State University's Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research. )
There are awesome steps being taken. A study, conducted at Purdue University, found that pre-malignant mammary lesions in dogs and humans display many of the same characteristics; discovery that could lead to a better understanding of breast cancer, the second leading cause of deaths in women. Purdue research shows that the similarity between canine and human lesions associated with breast cancer makes dogs an ideal model to study progression of the disease while it is still treatable. (Elisabetta Antuofermo).
Here are a few of the other studies being done in comparative oncology that increase the chances of survival for pets and humans:
- Canine Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) …Samarium-153-EDTMP is being used to treat canine osteosarcoma. Originally a radiopharmaceutical that targets bone lesions and helps to alleviate pain in dogs, the treatment is now approved for use in humans with bone cancer and marketed as Quadramet.
- · Brain Cancer…Immunotherapy for Canine Glioma, NIH R21 uses proteins from the tumor to make a vaccine that is as genetically similar as possible causing the immune system to recognize and kill any tumor cells. Unlike chemotherapy or radiation, this treatment approach is intended to be non-toxic.
- · Bladder Cancer…The most common cancer of the canine urinary bladder is invasive transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). Canine TCC is almost identical to human invasive TCC. The vast majority of TCC cases are treated with medical therapy: Piroxicam or a combination of Piroxicam with an IV chemotherapy drug called Mitoxantrone. This research has led to two clinical trials in humans with TCC at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
- · Lymphoma…Texas A&M University is continuing a ground-breaking research project for canine non-Hodgkin lymphoma using T-cell therapy developed at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved trials using T-cell immunotherapy to treat humans for lymphoma.
The first best defense in winning the war against cancer is early detection. Touch your dogs and cats often; be totally familiar with their bodies. When something new appears or the body landscape changes, do not wait…get it checked out by your vet. Lumps, bruises, changes in habits are all significant. Do a monthly lymph node check…ask your vet how to do this; it is similar to what women have been taught to do as a self breast exam monthly.
And finally, the White Dog Army wants ALL of our blogging community to know the warning signs. Please, know them and take them seriously. Too many are taken too soon or are forced to fight a raging monster within their own bodies. If we can spare any of our beloved friends this, this post will have proved its worth.
Know Canine Cancer Warning Signs (by pawnation.com)
1. Marked Change in Activity Level
2. Sudden Bad Breath and/or Oral Bleeding
3. Inexplicable Bleeding
4. Sudden Big, Enlarged or Swollen Belly
5. New Lumps New lumps and bumps need to be evaluated to determine if they are benign or malignant
6. Collapse...a dire emergency. Go immediately to vet.
7. Unexplainable Limping that lasts more than a week.
8. Posturing to urinate without producing a normal amount or appropriate stream of urine is very abnormal.
9. Anorexia. We all can be a bit picky about what we eat, but pets that stop eating altogether usually have something wrong with them.
10. Excessive Thirst. Progressively increased thirst can actually be related to tumors or hormone disorders, so changes in thirst shouldn't be ignored.
11. Persistent Vomiting
12. Very Pale Gums. Pale or gray gums are not normal.